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In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray

Too old to ski at 100? No says insurer

Date: 24-Nov-2014

Worried you might be getting too old to get ski holiday insurance?  A UK insurance company has just increased its upper age limit to 100. Michael Pettifer, owner and director of MPI Brokers says: “Last year we put it up to 90. I said we were still getting the odd customer wanting to ski at 91 or 92 – not many, perhaps ten or so - so the underwriter said ‘ok – let’s put it up to 100’.” How much will it cost? If you bought cover on line today it would cost £147.81 in France or £184.76 for a week in elsewhere in Europe.

Peak beauty spots go on line

Date: 21-Nov-2014

The Peak District has become the first national park accessible via Google Street View. That doesn’t mean you can take a virtual hike anywhere you fancy, however. As the park’s chief executive Jim Dixon notes, it was impossible to film every inch of its 555 square miles. “Instead we have selected some of the highlights. These are the trail areas where we offer ranger-led walks, family activities and cycle hire and bike maintenance.” Places which can be viewed on line include the High Peak, Monsal and Tissington trails.

•  Read Peveril of the Peak with HF Holidays ... and Harry

View from Peveril of the Peaks

Birmingham to get new Big Apple link

Date: 20-Nov-2014

American Airlines is to launch daily flights between Birmingham and New York next spring. Starting in early May the carrier will fly, leaving the Midlands at 10am and arriving at JFK Airport at 12.55pm. Eastbound services will depart at 7pm, arriving at 7.10am next morning. Flights will be operated under a code share deal with American’s partner British Airways, meaning they’ll be bookable through BA’s reservation system. And travellers from Birmingham to Barcelona will benefit from fresh competition from June 1 next year when Spanish airline Vueling launches flights to the Catalan city, starting with three round trips a week.

American Airlines

Great War tours on snowshoes

Date: 19-Nov-2014

Snowshoe tours of the First World War front between Italy and Austria will be on offer in the Dolomites ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo this winter. A guide and a re-enactor/narrator will accompany the hikes in period uniform. Groups will walk to the restored Cima Gallina defensive position.  The tour takes about 1hr 90mins. Visit Lasazuoi 5 Torri, which also has details of tours on skis covering a theatre of the Great War which s relatively little known in the UK. (Read The White War by Mark Thompson published by Faber & Faber).

Snowshoeing in the Dolomites

BA to start Krakow service

Date: 18-Nov-2014

British Airways is to launch flights to Krakow from Heathrow. From May 1 it will operate four round trips a week to the former Polish capital – on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.


Lisbon’s electric car tours

Date: 17-Nov-2014

Electric cars with GPS audio guides are now available in Lisbon. Visitors can follow a range of themed itineraries or make their own. You could follow the route of Tram 28, for example, which passes the Portuguese capital’s best known sights, or concentrate on the city’s Moorish heritage. Prices vary but these two tours cost €29 for 1hr and €34 die 1hrs 30mins respectively – with €15 extra for each additional hour. Information at

Lisbon Eco Tours

BA to start Bilbao flights

Date: 14-Nov-2014

British Airways will launch flights to from Heathrow to Bilbao in northern Spain – home to a spectacular branch of the Guggenheim Museum - on March 29. On the same day Spanish airline Vueling, which is belongs, with BA, to the International Airlines Group, will move its Bilbao services from Heathrow to Gatwick.

Bilbao Guggenheim Museum

New hotel opens in Liverpool

Date: 13-Nov-2014

Liverpool’s 110 years old, Grade II listed Royal Insurance building has become a hotel. The opening of the Starwood group’s Aloft Liverpool follows an £18m conversion, which has removed the property from English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk register. It has a fitness centre and free wi fi is available throughout the hotel.

Aloft Liverpool

Luxury Irish train planned

Date: 12-Nov-2014

A luxury touring train is to be launched in Ireland. Belmond plans to start operating the luxury sleeper in summer 2016 after acquiring 10 carriages from Irish Rail. The train will be called the Belmond Grand Hibernian. It will visit destinations in the north and south. Belmond is the new brand recently introduced by Orient Express Hotels. The company continues to operate other luxury trains, including the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express.

Belmond Grand Hiberian

US tightens traveller screening

Date: 11-Nov-2014

Travellers from Britain to the US will now need to answer extra security questions when they make their electronic (ESTA) applications for permission to enter the country. The move comes amid fears that western based fighters returning from Syria may pose a threat. Expect to be asked to provide your parents’ names, for example, contact details, city of birth and employment information.

Canada to demand travel e-clearance

Date: 10-Nov-2014

Planning a holiday in Canada? From next April you’ll need to get authorisation on line. The flip side is you can expect to get through immigration more quickly on arrival. The eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) will cost the equivalent of Canadian $7 and will be valid for up to five years. The move applies to travellers from all countries expect the US.



Gatwick: new Canada flights planned

Date: 07-Nov-2014

Canadian leisure airline Air Transat will fly from Gatwick to St. John's, Newfoundland and onward to Halifax, Nova Scotia, next summer. The service will operate twice a week from mid June until the start of September.

Air Transat

Museum of American West set to open

Date: 06-Nov-2014

The history of the American west will be the theme of a new museum scheduled to open in Arizona next month. The Museum of the West in Scottsdale promises to tell the story through paintings and photographs, narrative, multi-media presentations and “participatory exhibitions”.

Museum of the West

Swiss flights take off from Southend

Date: 05-Nov-2014

Flights from Southend airport to Bern have been launched by Swiss airline SkyWork. Bern is a handy jumping off point for the Jungfrau area, including the ski and summer resorts of Wengen and Grindelwald. On some days the carrier is operating two round trips but its timetable shows no services on Saturdays and only one outbound flight on Sundays, arriving at 10.30pm. So travellers to the Alps will either have to get to their accommodation late at night or fly on weekdays, when there’s an early morning departure from the Essex airport.

SkyWork Airlines

Austrian farm hike launched

Date: 04-Nov-2014

A two week holiday hiking between Almen – Austrian mountain eateries with accommodation – has been launched for next year by Ramblers Worldwide Holidays. The trip covers the first 160kms of the 350km Almenweg, which links these small Alpine farms in Salzburg province. Typical of the dishes they serve is the Brettljause, a selection of cold cuts including home made cheeses and home cured pork products. The package costs from £1250 including flights and full board, with some nights spend in Almen, some in hotels.

Almen – Austrian mountain eateries with accommodation

Newcastle gets Big Apple link

Date: 03-Nov-2014

United Airlines will fly between Newcastle and New York next summer. Between May 23 and September 7 the airline will operate five round trips a week, with departures from the UK at 9.10am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

BA Heathrow flights switch terminals

Date: 31-Oct-2014

British Airways flights from Heathrow to Belfast City Airport and Dublin have switched to Terminal 5 from Terminal 1 and services from Heathrow to Barcelona have moved to Terminal 3 from Terminal 5.

New flights to Slovakian mountains

Date: 30-Oct-2014

Skiers and hikers have a new air route to the mountains from this week (starting October 28) when Wizz Air launches a flights from Luton to Poprad, in Slovakia. Poprad lies at the foot of the Tatra range in the north of the country. The airline will fly there three times a week from October 28. Tour operator Mountain Paradise is taking advantage of the new service to offer long weekends on the Tatra slopes this winter. Customers will fly out on Thursday, back on Sunday, with a choice of a range of accommodation.

Peak walkway opens

Date: 29-Oct-2014

Hard on the heels of news that the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge will open next month in Austria, comes the announcement that another has just opened above the Swiss resort of Gstaad. This one’s claimed to be the first hanging bridge connecting two peaks. At 3000 metres above sea level it stretches for 107 metres between the View Point and the Scex Rouge with a view, in clear weather, taking in Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and the Bernese Alps.

Hanging bridge

Boutique hotel has own beach hut

Date: 28-Oct-2014

A new boutique hotel with its own beach hut has opened on a hill overlooking the Kent coast at Whitstable. The 18 room Crescent Turner on Wraik Hill has 18 rooms and a restaurant whose menu includes the local oysters, which the town celebrates with an annual festival in July. Guests may reserve the beach hut, which has cooking facilities including a barbecue and houses three canoes.

The Crescent Turner

Budget transatlantic flights planned

Date: 27-Oct-2014

Icelandic low cost airline WOW is to launch flights from Gatwick to Boston and Baltimore Washington airport via Reykjavik. Departures to the former will start on March 27. Services to the latter – it’s about an hour’s drive to Washington DC - will begin on June 4. The airline says its lowest one way fare between March 30 and June 15 will be £99 one way but a check on the airline’s web site showed that price available on only a few flights one way.  Plus there’s a total of £17.48 in booking fees, a £39 charge for checked baggage and a minimum of £2 to choose a particular seat. But if you are prepared to add 3hrs to your journey time on the way out and about 4hrs on the return leg you should be able to trim your travel costs. A random check showed the total cost on WOW, departing in April 17 and returning a week later, assuming you take hold bags and choose seats, would be £436.65 (add £24 return for extra leg room) compared with £632 return in economy on British Airways on the same dates.

Lincoln shooting - exhibition planned

Date: 24-Oct-2014

The pistol used by John Wilkes Booth to shoot President Lincoln will be among the exhibits brought together in Washington next spring to mark the 150th anniversary of the event. “Silent Witnesses: artifacts of the Lincoln assassination” will be staged from March 23 until May 25 at the Center for Education and Leadership, opposite the Ford's Theatre, where the shooting occurred. Other exhibits, assembled from a range of museums, include Lincoln’s top hat, cuff links, great coat and the contents of his pockets that fateful night.

Suspension bridge to open in Tirol

Date: 23-Oct-2014

A pedestrian suspension bridge claimed to be the world’s longest is scheduled to open next month in the Tirolean market town of Reutte. The 403 metre bridge, will link the ruins of Ehrenburg castle with Fort Claudia. Visitors will cross at a dizzying 114.6 metres above the intervening gorge. Currently the longest such suspension bridge is on the island of Kyushu, Japan.

New flights from Leeds-Bradford

Date: 22-Oct-2014

Monarch Airlines will launch flights to Alicante and Naples from Leeds-Bradford next spring. Starting in late March it is expected to operate three round and two trips a week to the Spanish and Italian cities respectively.

London – Geneva: fast rail link

Date: 21-Oct-2014

High speed train travel to Geneva with no need to change stations in Paris will be possible from December 14. Eurostar passengers from St. Pancras or Ebbsfleet will be able to switch to TGV Lyria services in Lille. Travel time to and from the Swiss city will be just over 6hrs. There will be a 37min wait in Lille on the way out (33mins on the homeward journey).

Silver travellers grumble less

Date: 20-Oct-2014

Is it because we’re that bit less starry eyed than the young – or is it that we’ve learned how to avoid the pitfalls of travel? Surprisingly, given our grumpy image, silver travellers complain less about their holidays than those in other age groups. Research from the Institute of Customer Service shows consumers express progressively higher satisfaction with tourism and transport providers the older they get. Tourism is the third highest scoring sector overall, following retail (non food) and retail (food). Transport, which includes airlines and ferries, is tenth. In the overall league table of top performing companies, which is headed by John Lewis. Center Parcs (13th) is the top tourism, followed by P&O Cruises (joint 24th), Marriott (joint 32nd) and Hilton (36th). P&O Ferries, classified and a transport company, is 29th.

Battle of Waterloo to be re-enacted

Date: 17-Oct-2014

A spectacular re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo will be staged in Belgium next summer to mark the bicentenary of one of history’s pivotal engagements. Some 5000 actors are expected to take part – with 300 horses and 100 canon. On June 19 the French attack will be staged. The following day it will be the allied counter-attack, with the fighting concentrated around the Hougoumont Farm, Over the two days there will also be a recreation of the bivouacs, providing an insight into the daily life of the troops as they prepared to fight. Tickets for each of the two battle re-enactments are already available on line at, priced €15.75. Admission to the bivouac exhibition is €6.75.


Sri Lanka gets new cliff top hotel

Date: 16-Oct-2014

A hotel developed by a tea producing family has opened on a headland in Sri Lanka. Cape Weligama, a complex of 40 villas, overlooks the Indian Ocean from a cliff top near Galle Fort on the south coast. It has a gym, an infinity pool and a speedboat used for whale watching excursions. The property, which is set in 12 acres of landscape gardens, is part of Resplendent Ceylon, set up by Dilmah Tea whose aim is to create a collection of small luxury resorts offering guests a taste of Sri Lankan history and culture. Its first venture, Ceylon Tea Trails, opened in 2005. Both properties are members of the up market Relais & Chateaux consortium.

Cape Weligama

Sandals and Beaches to provide free WiFi

Date: 15-Oct-2014

Free WiFi access will be available to all guests at Sandals and Beaches resorts from December 1. It is currently available only to customers booking premium holidays at the Caribbean all-inclusive resorts, such as those which come with concierge or butler service.

CityJet to axes Cardiff – Glasgow

Date: 14-Oct-2014

CityJet is to axe its Cardiff – Glasgow flights later this month – only nine months after it launched the service. However it will continue to fly from Welsh capital to Edinburgh and Paris. 

New St Petersburg flights to take off

Date: 13-Oct-2014

Russia’s Transaero Airlines is to launch non-stop services between London Heathrow and St. Petersburg on October 29 with round trip fares starting at £186 – which includes on board food and drink. Flights will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Departing from Heathrow at 6.30pm and arriving in St Petersburg at 1.50am. London-bound flights will leave at 3.40pm, arriving at 4.10pm. Flying time is 3hrs 30mins. Transaero is the second largest airline in the Russian Federation.


New Madeira flights

Date: 11-Oct-2014

Norwegian Air Shuttle is to launch winter services from Gatwick to Madeira on October 28. The low cost airline will fly there twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Model train show expands

Date: 10-Oct-2014

Rail layouts from Scotland and south London in the 1960s will be replicated at the Great Electric Train Show next weekend. Run in conjunction with Hornby Magazine, this is the second such exhibition to be held at the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire. It will feature 27 model railway layouts across all gauges. It starts at 10am on October 11 and 12. Tickets are £9 for adults and £7 for children. The magazine’s editor Mike Wild claims the show will top last year’s with the introduction of a “Skills Zone” where experts will offer modeling advice.

Blackpool Airport to close

Date: 09-Oct-2014

Blackpool Airport is to close next week following failed efforts to find a buyer. Flights will cease after October 15. Passengers already booked to fly are advised to contact their airlines. In a statement its owners said: “We regret to announce that no agreement has been reached to secure the future of operations at Blackpool Airport. The airport operation has been making a loss for a number of years and unfortunately there is no option for the company other than to close. While the sales process announced at the end of August was a final attempt to secure the future of the airport, the airport's management had spent many months prior to this announcement approaching organisations with a potential interest in the airport in an attempt to find a buyer.”


CityJet to pull out of Cambridge

Date: 08-Oct-2014

CityJet is to axe its flights from Cambridge airport later this month. The British Airways subsidiary has been operating daily on both routes. The last departures will be on October 25. In a statement the airline said it had developed a strong working relationship with the airport “and will continue to explore potential opportunities for future routes.

Hotel with no TV wins award

Date: 07-Oct-2014

A Scottish hotel with no TV, no WiFi and “poor to non extistent” mobile reception has been named “Newcomer of the Year” in the latest edition of the annual Good Food Guide. The Moor of Rannoch Hotel in Perth and Kinross, described as “blissfully isolated”, fills the gap with board games, books, and wood burning stoves. Other awards: country hotel: is Wiltshire’s Pear Tree at Purton; top pub with rooms: the Talbot Inn at Mells, Somnerset; small hotel: Yalbury Cottage, Lower Bockhampton near Dorchester, Dorset; country house hotel: Lords or the Manor in Gloucestershire; Scottish, Welsh and Irish hotels of the year: respectively The Green Park, Pitlochry, Milebrook House, Knighton and Newforge House in County Armagh – and best dog friendly hotel: Overwater Hall, Cumbria.

Moor of Rannoch Hotel

Gentler skiing at Colorado resort

Date: 06-Oct-2014

Looking for somewhere off the beaten track to ski this winter? Colorado’s Crested Butte, long known for its superb expert powder tree skiing, has been extending it to cater for intermediates. Over the past two summers it has worked with the US Forest Service to identify suitable areas where trees can be thinned to make glades. Skiers seeking more gentle gladed terrain will have new options for the coming season in the East River area and off the Teocali lift. Getting there will also be easier following the introduction of United Airlines flights from Chicago to nearby Gunnison.

Crested Butte

T2 move for Lufthansa airlines

Date: 03-Oct-2014

Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are the latest airline to have moved into Heathrow’s new Terminal 2. The German airline has opened its largest lounge in Europe there. Other carriers in the Lufthansa Group will switch their operations to the terminal over the next week or so, with Germanwings moving Wednesday October 8 followed by SWISS and Brussels Airlines on October 15.

BA to send Heathrow smartphone alerts

Date: 02-Oct-2014

British Airways customers with smart phones using Heathrow’s Terminal 5 will no longer need to keep an eye on the departure screens from the start of October. They will be able to receive alerts that their gates are open and the aircraft is boarding via the airline’s app. A few weeks after the service becomes available it will be extended to Terminal 3.

Hotel reaches for the sky

Date: 01-Oct-2014

Staggering views are promised from a hotel planned in Los Angeles. The 900 room InterContinental will have a lobby on the 70th floor. Scheduled to open in 2017 it will be housed in a 73 storey skyscraper – billed as the tallest in the western Americas - on a site previously occupied by the Wilshire Grand. The building will also incorporate office and retail space.


Russian hotel prices plummet

Date: 30-Sep-2014

The Ukraine crisis has hit Russia’s tourism industry hard, new figures show. Hotels there operated 15% emptier on average in August than in the same month last summer, according to research company STR Global. That’s already having an impact on room prices. Those in Moscow were down by 18.2% on average compared with August 2013 when calculated in euros. And even when currency fluctuations were taken out of the arithmetic, prices in roubles fell by an average of 9% for the country as a whole.

Silver travellers stay sociable

Date: 29-Sep-2014

We may get grumpier as we grow older but a high proportion of us remain tolerant enough to holiday with friends. The figure is close to one in five (18%) holidaymakers over 55, according to the latest annual Holiday Trends Report published by travel trade organisation ABTA. Sadly a high proportion also holiday alone - 13% in the 55-64 age category, rising to 21% of those over 65. The research also show a significant number take breaks with their immediate or extended families, suggesting that in tough times holidays are another drain on the Bank of Mum and Dad.

New London hotel opens

Date: 26-Sep-2014

A new hotel is now open in London’s Holborn this week. The 174 room Hoxton, which is housed in a Grade II listed building, has two restaurants. Room rates, which range from £69 to £269, include one hour of free phone calls to landlines and US mobiles in the UK, US, Australia and most of Europe. The property is sister to the Hoxton in Shoreditch.

The Hoxton Holborn

Hold baggage fees legal – court rules

Date: 25-Sep-2014

Airline fees for carrying checked luggage are legal, the European Court of Justice has ruled. The court in Luxembourg had been asked by a Spanish court to consider whether the country’s ban on such fees was compatible with EU law. This followed a complaint by a passenger against the low cost airline Vueling. In its ruling the court said the cost of carrying hold baggage was, as a component of the price of the service, a significant element. And it noted that it cannot be excluded that some air passengers prefer to travel without checking in baggage on the basis that doing so reduces the cost of their plane ticket”.


BA to fly to Kuala Lumpur again

Date: 24-Sep-2014

British Airways is to fly direct to Kuala Lumpur again. It last operated the route in 2001. Starting on May 27 next year the airline will operate daily flights to the Malaysian capital from Heathrow using extended range Boeing 777-200 aircraft with first, business, premium economy and economy cabins. Outbound flights will depart at 8.15pm, arriving 12hrd 45mins later at 4pm local time. London-bound services will leave at 11.05pm, arriving at 5.25am next morning.

Kuala Lumpur

Lace museum opens

Date: 23-Sep-2014

The New Bruges Lace Museum – Opened 19th September 2014. The history of lacemaking is unfolded at a new museum just opened in Bruges. It began there in the 16th century and soon began to play an important role in the culture and economics of the Belgian city. In the 19th century, religious groups also started teaching the skill. The museum is housed in one of the former schools they founded – that of the Apostollinnen sisters on Balstraat 16.



River cruise and walk

Date: 22-Sep-2014

The appeal of combining a river cruise with guided walking will be tested next summer by Ramblers Worldwide Holidays and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. The two operators, who already combine their expertise to run sea cruise and walk packages for are offering an 8 night holiday on the Loire and Garonne in France. Passengers will sail from Dover aboard Fred Olsen’s Braemar on 1 August. Prices start at £1125.


Silver ramblers

Northern Lights watchers get refunds

Date: 19-Sep-2014

The recent strength of sterling has prompted Northern Lights specialist The Aurora Zone to cut its prices. The operator is contacting all its customers to offer them an average reduction of around 7%. Its new lead in price is £1,138 for each of two sharing – down from £1,224 – which includes four nights’ full board accommodation, flights from Heathrow, activities, cold weather clothing and expert guides.

Northern Lights promise

Date: 18-Sep-2014

If the Northern Lights stubbornly refuse to put on a show, passengers on some Hurtigruten voyages this winter will be offered a second chance to see them. The Norwegian coastal line has issued a guarantee to customers' booking for its 11-night Classic Round voyages by November 30th, for departures between October 1st this year and March 31st, 2015. With the vessel spending a week in or close to the aurora zone the company is so confident passengers will see the lights that it will offer them seven or six night voyages the following winter if they don’t.

Northern Lights

White House Visitor Centre re-opens

Date: 17-Sep-2014

Washington’s White House Visitor Centre has re-opened after a $12,6m (£7.8m) renovation. During the work the centre, which includes exhibits covering aspects of the Presidential home from its architecture to the First Families who have lived there, has been housed in temporary premises. Admission is free and the centre is open from 7.40am until 4pm daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and January 1.

White House Visitor Centre

Hamburg flights from Docklands

Date: 16-Sep-2014

Flights to Hamburg are scheduled to take off from London City Airport next month. Starting on October 27, British Airways’ Danish franchise partner Sun-Air will operate two round trips a day on weekdays to the north German city, using a 32 seat Dornier 328 aircraft.


Scots holiday safeguards in doubt

Date: 15-Sep-2014

The future of package holiday safeguards for Scottish travellers will be thrown into doubt by a vote for independence this week. Seasoned travel industry observers expect the status quo would survive temporarily, while the terms and lengths of independent government were thrashed out - with air holidaymakers protected by the existing ATOL scheme and the EU’s package travel regulations. But with questions remaining over Scotland’s continuing membership of the EU it is thought that eventually the country might need to design a new protection scheme of its own to ensure travellers don’t lose money – or find themselves stranded abroad – when tour firms go bust.

Spot the stars over Ayers Rock

Date: 12-Sep-2014

The night skies over the Australian Outback are perfect for stargazing. Ayers Rock Resort in the Northern Territory is employing an astronomer-in-residence who conducts free afternoon information sessions – until November - on five days of the week – to help guests identify planets and galaxies.

Ayers Rock

Snowshoe in Albania

Date: 11-Sep-2014

Snowshoeing in Albania is on offer in a new winter programme from Exodus. The tour operator says previous experience is not essential but would be advantageous “as this is a moderate to challenging grade trip in a remote region”. Travellers will be based at Valbone and Tropoje in the Albanian alps. Nine day trips cost from £1,099 per person, including flights, accommodation and all but two meals, snow shoes and poles.

Snowshoeing in Albania

Free bubbly on the slopes

Date: 10-Sep-2014

Never mind champagne powder – there will be free champagne on the slopes of Northstar, California this season. At 2.30pm guests will be offered a choice of Veuve Clicquot, a sparkling wine or some fizzy cider (in the US cider is usually non alcoholic). Northstar, which is close to the shore of Lake Tahoe, is part of the Vail Resorts stable.


Chile hotel has own dairy

Date: 09-Sep-2014

A new hotel with its own dairy producing milk and cheese has opened amid the stunning scenery of Chile’s lake district. The cheese maker introduces guests to his art. Set in 23 acres on the Liucara River the Vira Vira  has 22 rooms and suites. White water rafting, kayaking, fly fishing and bathing in thermal springs are all available. Original Travel can arrange stays there from £876 a head for three nights, including all meals and drinks, excursions, activities and airport transfers.


York claims techno lead

Date: 08-Sep-2014

York may be one of our oldest cities but it now claims to offer more ways to explore its attractions through technology than any other in the UK. Among them is a pioneering app - the world’s first according to its tourist office - featuring holographic guides. Developed in cooperation with it makes characters from the city’s past appear on the screens of visitors’ mobile devices at appropriate points on their itineraries. Details of this and other apps are at Free WiFi is available throughout the city centre with a free log in which you can get from the visitor centre.

View of York Minster from Precentor's Court

Docklands get new Guernsey flights

Date: 06-Sep-2014

Aurigny is scheduled to launch flights between London City and Guernsey next week. From September 8 the airline will offer two daily roune trips on weekdays. Flights will be operated initially by Belgian airline VLM. Departures from the Docklands airport are at 9.15am and 6.45pm with flights from the Channel Island at 8.45am and 6.15pm. Aurigny already flies between Guernsey and six other UK airports: Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Southampton, Bristol and East Midlands.


Castle Cornet, Guernsey

Yoga before take off

Date: 05-Sep-2014

Yoga sessions are now available in the SkyTeam lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal Four. A studio has been set aside in a two month pilot scheme. Travellers are provided with mats and a video showing an exercise sequences. Passengers flying on any of the alliance’s 13 members airlines can take advantage.

Istanbul gets new luxury hotel

Date: 04-Sep-2014

Boasting a rooftop pool and one of the biggest spas in the Turkish city, a new Raffles hotel has opened in Istanbul. With 180 rooms and suites the property is in the Zorlu Center, a new food, fashion and arts complex in Besiktas, overlooking the Bosphorus on the European side. This will be the tenth hotel in the Raffles chain. The first Raffles opened in Singapore – the company’s home base – in 1887.

Raffles Istanbul Zorlu Center

Rome ups tourist tax

Date: 04-Sep-2014

Rome’s tourist tax has increased. According to the European Tour Operators Association it has gone up from €3 to €6 per night, for example, for a visitor staying in a four star hotel.

Gatwick gets new Jakarta link

Date: 03-Sep-2014

Indonesian airline Garuda is scheduled to start its delayed operation between Gatwick and Jakarta next week. From September 8 it will fly five times a week via Amsterdam using an extended range Boeing 777-300. The airline originally planned to launch the operation in May but postponed the start after it ran into difficulties securing suitable take off and landing slots this summer at Gatwick.

More silver skiers heading off piste

Date: 02-Sep-2014

Silver skiers are increasingly hitting the deep powder. The Ski Club of Great Britain has upped the number of holidays if offers for higher level and adventurous skiers over 50 through its Freshtracks operation. For example it has just introduced a one week ski and spa package at Ponte di Legno in Italy including six days guided off piste skiing (£1299 including scheduled flights, transfers, four star half board and mountain guides. Last year it saw overall increase of 15% in bookings from members for its Peak Experience holidays, which are designed for over 50s – whether for packages aimed at advanced or expert skiers or those preferring gentle on piste cruising. And it expects a further 10% increase for the coming season.

Read more about Silver Skiing

More silver skiers heading off piste

Free Wi-Fi at Amsterdam airport

Date: 02-Sep-2014

Passengers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport can now access the internet via free, unlimited WiFi. Select Schiphol Airport_WiFi on the login page.

Free WiFi at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Robot room service

Date: 01-Sep-2014

Call room service at one of the Starwood group’s Aloft hotels from now on and you may find your small items are delivered by a robot. Described as the hotel industry’s first Botir (robotic butler) it will make its first deliveries at the Aloft Cupertino, appropriately in California’s Silicon Valley. It will, says Starwood, even be able to negotiate the lift.


… and robots go to sea

Date: 01-Sep-2014

Robot bartenders will mix cocktails aboard Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Quantum of the Seas, which is scheduled to enter service in November. Customers will order their drinks using tablets. 

Quantum of the Seas

Mushroom hunting in Rutland

Date: 29-Aug-2014

Love wild mushrooms? Hambleton Hall, near Oakham in Rutland is offering a foraging outing on October 4 led by mycologist Paul Nichol who will identify those that which are edible and delicious, such as the parasol, and those which cause harm. The excursion to Burley-on-the-Hill wood will be followed by a fungus themed lunch back the hotel, whose chef has a Michelin star. The outing and lunch cost £85 per person. A night’s B&B starts at £265 per double room.

Hambleton Hall

Haiti set to make tourism mark

Date: 28-Aug-2014

Tourism looks set to help Haiti overcome its troubled recent history. Following years of political unrest and the 2010 earthquake which caused so much devastation and grief in the Caribbean country the giant Carnival line has announced its intention to develop a cruise port on the island of Tortuga, just off the north coast. The company estimates it will create over 900 jobs, directly or indirectly and it is expected that eventually cruise passengers will be offered a range of new shore excursions.

Rising demand for long escapes

Date: 27-Aug-2014

Demand from silver travellers for long espapes to a warmer climate appear to be growing. Britanny Ferries says it has sold twice as many four week apartment packages for autumn, winter and spring as it had at this point last year. It has added the Algarve and increased the number of destinations on offer on the Spanish Costas. The packages cost from £599 per person, including the car ferry crossing.

Antarctic lure for solo travellers

Date: 26-Aug-2014

Growing demand from solo travellers has persuaded Quark Expeditions to drop its single supplement for some cabins aboard Ocean Endeavour – a forthcoming addition to its Antarctica expedition fleet. The move means significant savings. Following a major makeover the 199 passenger ship will make 12 voyages starting late next year. The company says there will be a special on board focus on fitness, with passengers being offered the option of healthy meals, yoga and stretching classes and a massage therapy session.

Quark Expeditions

Floating hotel planned

Date: 25-Aug-2014

A ship will be converted into a floating hotel to be moored next to the former royal yacht Britannia, now a tourist attraction in Edinburgh's port of Leith. The MV Windsor Castle, was launched in 1963, the last ship built by the Blythswood Shipbuilding Company in Glasgow. After a conversions costing nearly £1m the hotel is scheduled to open with 25 rooms in Spring 2016.


Newcastle gets new sun flights

Date: 13-Aug-2014

Jet2 is to launch weekly flights to four sunshine destinations from Newcastle next year. Starting in May the low fare airline will operate to Antalya (Turkey on Fridays, Malta on Thursdays, Larnaca (Cyprus), and Zante – both on Wednesdays.

New river cruise guide

Date: 21-Jun-2014

A new guide which compares and rates European river cruise ships is now available. It’s been compiled by Douglas Ward, who has written the annual Berlitz guide to cruising at sea for the past 30 years. The new guide – Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe – costs £14.99.

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